Five Stages of Team Development

5 Stages of Team Development That Guarantee a Successful Outcome

The search on team dynamics gave rise to the 5 stages of team development. These stages have an important role to play, for the team to function smoothly and give good results.
It was Bruce Wayne Tuckman, who proposed the 5 stages of team development in the year 1965. According to him, every team that is formed goes through the five stages, so that it can grow strength to strength, face challenges, handle problems, find solutions and eventually deliver the desired results. When the theory was initially proposed, there were only four stages, however, the last stage was added in 1977. Tuckman worked with Mary Ann Jensen, when the fifth stage was added to the theory. The five stages as given by Tuckman are: forming, storming, norming, performing, adjourning. The last stage was added, because at the end of the project, the team members separate to join other teams. In some cases, however, the same team can continue to work together on another project.

Tuckman's Stages of Team Development

Stage #1 - Forming
As the name suggests, this the stage where the team is formed. In the first few days the team members get to know one another. Often information about background, interests, experience, etc., are shared. Along with getting introduced to one another, the team members also get to know the project, that they are going to be working on. It is in this stage that the goals and objectives are set forward. The roles to be played by each of the team member is decided upon. In this stage, there is no work, that is really performed. This stage often works like the ice breaker. Along with the roles, the rules and regulations, that are going to be followed are decided upon in this stage. The role of the team leader cannot be forgotten at this stage. It is left to the team leader to form a cohesive group.

Stage #2 - Storming
The next of the Tuckman's stages of group development is the storming stage. Any new group that has been formed goes through this stage. Since the team is new, each of the team members is vying for attention and is up to outshining the others in the group. This is more so prevalent because it is in this stage that the decision is made about the functioning of the group, along with the problems of the team members that need attention. How soon does the team move out of the storming stage actually depends on the members of the team. If there are more members in the team, who are accommodating, then the team will move out of this stage rather faster. Adopting some team building activities at this stage may prove to be of great help. Although it is not the best stage, every team has to go through this as it is important. It is also vital that the team members exercise tolerance and patience. In this stage the leader of the group will have a decisive role to play. He will leave it to the team members to solve the problems amongst themselves and tend to remain directive in his guidance and decision making.

Stage #3 - Norming
It is in this stage that the team members actually start focusing on the issue at hand. It will be seen, that they will be more enthusiastic and goal driven and more open to accepting each other with the positives and the negatives. From the competition that had cropped in the previous stage, they will move to cooperation. Since there will be more open communication, it will be seen, that there is very little space for misunderstanding. After having spent a lot of time with another, the members will get to know each others strength, which is then used appropriately.

Stage #4 - Performing
When the team moves to the performing stage, the focus shifts to the goal. There is no internal bickering in the team as the team is far more cohesive and trust and rely on each other. At this stage, it is important to note that not all teams are able to reach the performing stage. The team may work independently, yet be dependent on each other, hence, this stage has features as being independent as well as interdependent. It is in this stage that the team is at this productive best, as the team members are extremely task oriented. It will be seen, that the team members support each other through different experiments.

Stage #5 - Adjourning
This is the last stage, which Tuckman added later to the theory of team development. This can be a painful stage for the group, as there will be termination of task behavior and disengagement from the bond and relations that have been formed. In this stage, there may be a planned conclusion, where there is recognition of the efforts put in along with the achievements. It is like a regressive movement, since it involves giving up control as well as giving up on being a part of the team. It is in this stage that there are celebrations in the team for the successful completion of the project. If the project was not successful, then the reasons for failure are evaluated.

The time and effort required for moving from one stage normally depend on the team members itself. Therefore, it is difficult to draw a timeline for each of the stages. Let's not forget the role the team leader has to play for the group to function smoothly and work in tandem with each other and be successful. In case of any problems, it is the skills of the team leader which will be put to test. If the team leader is able to keep the bickering away as much as possible, he will see that the team will progress at a faster rate from one stage to another.
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